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Burns Is Gone — Are Couture, Karlsson, Hertl, or Meier Next?

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Credit: AP Photo/Josie Lepe

Who’s the next San Jose Sharks’ staple to leave town?

In April, GM Doug Wilson stepped down. In May, Patrick Marleau officially retired — and long-time AHL head coach Roy Sommer was kicked upstairs, John McCarthy taking over behind the San Jose Barracuda bench. This past week, long-time scouts Gilles Cote and Brian Gross retired, director of scouting Doug Wilson Jr. left the organization, and Sommer went down the 5 to take over the San Diego Gulls. Today, Brent Burns was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes.

Who would’ve guessed that buyout candidate Marc-Edouard Vlasic would be last man standing in all this upheaval! Vlasic was not bought out after a summer of speculation.

Need a ride to the airport, Erik Karlsson, Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl, or Timo Meier?

Let’s keep in mind that Karlsson, like Vlasic, is close to untradeable because of their contracts. Vlasic, 35, has four years left with a $7 million AAV and Karlsson, 31, has five years left with an $11.5 million AAV.

Couture, 33, is tough to trade at five years left with an $8 million AAV, though I suspect if the Sharks retained a reasonable amount, they could find a taker now.

New San Jose Sharks GM Mike Grier, a long-time player himself, appears to be approaching each of his stars to ask if they want to be around for name your “R” word: Rebuild, refresh, reset, recharge, replenish, what have you.

Two days before shipping Burns out, Grier told the local media: “He’s been here a long time. He’s been a great Sharks player. I’ll let him kind of lead the way a little bit on that, go off his lead. As a former player myself, as you get older, you want to keep that competitive fire burning. And what keeps that burning is the chase for the Cup and winning.”

Burns spoke highly of Grier’s communication in his post-trade availability with Hurricanes media: “As a former player, he knows what I’m going through.

“We had a great talk about where I am in my career. He’s been very open and honest.”

In the end, the 37-year-old wanted to leave San Jose.

“He’s earned the right, if he said he wanted to stay here and go through this with us, we would have been more than happy to have him,” Grier revealed. “But like I said, I get it. He’s played a long time. He’s had a ton of success. We want him to have a chance to win the Stanley Cup.”

Grier was open and honest with the local media today about the futures of Karlsson and Couture with the San Jose Sharks, and unprompted, also involved younger stars Hertl and Meier in the conversation too. The question to the GM: “Do you anticipate having any other conversations with your other veterans that were similar to the one you had with Brent?”

“I would let Erik lead the way,” Grier said, echoing what he shared about Burns. “Erik and I talked for about 20 minutes the other day, we had a really good conversation. I think he’s motivated, he’s feeling good. He’s training hard, enjoying being back home. I’m excited to see what he brings this season.”

How about the captain?

“Logan’s really excited,” Grier offered. “He said he can’t wait to get going and [is] looking forward to the season. We’re happy that we have him back, leading our group.”

As for Hertl, you have to wonder if the 28-year-old Czech centerman is having second thoughts about committing to San Jose for eight more years this past April. Meanwhile, the 25-year-old Meier, an RFA after this season, has his future wide open. Does the Swiss winger want to spend that in San Jose?

“I gotta check in with Tomas, the time difference and everything, it’s been hard to get a hold of him,” Grier said. “Him and Timo.”

So stay tuned! The summer of upheaval in San Jose may not be over yet.

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